I never expected that Candice’s diagnosis of lupus (SLE) would have ever resulted in the failure of her kidneys and as a result the need for dialysis. As a matter of fact, it was surprising to me that Candice became ill in the first place. To the best of my knowledge, she ate well and exercised frequently.
However, prior to the above, I did observe that she began to look lethargic and complained of body pains particularly in her joints.
On our journey as a family to find the cause of Candice’s illness, I remember receiving recommendations en masse. A frequent advice was for her to drink “plenty coconut water”. We all know that is a No! No! especially for someone with a comprised renal system. Every other friend and family knew the best bush medicine for Candice’s ailment…… but what I knew for sure was my limitations in the medical field and certainly those of my advisors.
All my energy was now focused on Candice getting the ‘right’ doctor. One of the experiences that still remains vividly in my mind is the first doctor we engaged with. Now as a lay person, I knew when someone’s feet were swelling like a balloon that this could be a sign of renal/kidney problems. The cost of every visit was $500. By the fourth visit this physician did not see the urgency of doing at least one blood analysis or even to give a tentative diagnosis. So I called him one evening as I observed Candice’s swift deterioration in health. To reach him was almost impossible. I eventually got on to someone who paged him. I left him a message that went like this: “If anything happens to my daughter Candice Edwards …. I will find you”. Under a minute I got a call from this goodly doctor. Now, obviously that was the end of that. I know the above encounter described is not quite article friendly, but this is one of the realities that can be encountered on this type of journey that is seldom articulated, but often whispered.
Fast forward a few weeks later. Candice was hospitalized at the St Clair Medical Hospital. Not long after being admitted we were blessed by the presence of Dr. Leslie Roberts, who diagnosed Candice’s condition without even laying a hand on her. Relevant blood tests were done and one particular test was sent overseas.
When all the test results were compiled by Dr. Roberts, a diagnosis was confirmed :Lupus (SLE), Recommendation : Kidney Dialysis. I do remember on the first dialysis session, I felt quite strange seeing her hooked up to all the apparatus. However, she did experience great relief of her symptoms. For that, I was relieved.
After a couple of months on dialysis we all realised that although dialysis can contribute significantly to the well-being of a person experiencing renal failure that there are some draw backs. For example the financial cost for dialysis in a private institution can range from anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000 per session. If a person needs to do 2 to 3 sessions per week. Well you do the math. Dialysis not only impacts you financially, but can do so socially, physically and mentally.
After a couple months on dialysis we spoke with Dr. Roberts regarding a kidney transplant. Well, Candice had a few friends and relatives who were eager to donate one of their kidneys. However, for varying reasons this was not possible. At this stage, Dr. Roberts suggested that I could be a possible donor. Up to that time, this was the farthest thought in my mind because I perceived that I could not meet the criteria given the fact I was way over the 40+ (lol) threshold. After a couple weeks of rigorous testing, I came out with flying colours. I guess the time spent at the gym and efforts to eat healthy did pay off. Thank God.
The date for the operation was set. I needed to lose a few pounds so I increased my aerobic activity and ramped up my weight training. Together with this, I reduced my caloric intake and took vitamins in order to be as fit and healthy as I could be for the operation.
The night before entering the hospital, family and friends filled our home inside and outside. We all knelt in groups of two in prayer to thank God for what he had done thus far, for the medical team and good success of the operation.
The morning after entering Mount Hope Medical Sciences Complex, I was carried to the operating theatre at around 6:00 am. All medical staff were very pleasant and supportive. Not too long after Candice was brought to the operating theatre. When I saw her I gave her a wink of assurance. I was at perfect peace.
Within two days, I returned home feeling very fit and strong with just a slight discomfort in my abdomen that lasted only 2 to 3 days. Candice followed a few days later. She explained that she felt so different and energised.
I do recall that one of the things that she looked forward to with great anticipation was going to shop at Trincity Mall. The day we arrived at the mall Candice disappeared like a bolt of lightning. I could not keep up with her! So healthy, so energized, so happy……. so normal. It was at that moment that I truly understood, I mean really understood what a positive impact this operation had and is still having on my daughter’s life.
My advice to persons who are thinking of becoming a kidney donor and also those like me who was not even thinking about it. Think again. You may not only save a life but enhance another person’s life and your life as well.
Today, almost 8 years after we are both strong, healthy and thankful. Thankful always to team headed by Dr. Leslie Roberts and finally we wish to thank God for not only success but good success during this journey.